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Oralman (Kazakh: Оралмандар, Russian: Оралманы), or "returnee" is an official term used by Kazakh authorities to describe ethnic Kazakhs who have immigrated to Kazakhstan since its independence in 1991.[1] Oralman usually come from the neighbouring countries of China, Mongolia, Uzbekistan, Russia, Kyrgyzstan and also from countries with notable Kazakh minorities: Iran (Iranian Kazakhs), Afghanistan, and Pakistan.


Oralman typically settle in areas of Kazakhstan adjoining or near to their former homes, for reasons of climate and convenience; thus returnees from Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan are often found in the country's south, while those from China and Mongolia are concentrated in the east.[2] The government prefers to settle them in the north of the country, and offers them more benefits; however, returnees themselves prefer regions where the Russian language is less important in every day life, particularly in the south.[3]


Oralman often face difficulty integrating into the labour market and with everyday communication due to insufficient command of the Russian language, which remains an important lingua franca in Kazakhstan.[4]

Oralman from China form the majority of teachers of the Chinese language at universities in Kazakhstan.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kueppers, Alfred (2004-04-22), "Ethnic Kazakhs Find Titular Homeland to be Economic Haven", Eurasianet.org, retrieved 2007-09-19 
  2. ^ Tan, Vivian (2007-08-09), "After generations away, Kazakhs come home to an independent country", Reuters Alertnet, retrieved 2007-09-19 
  3. ^ "Special report on ethnic Kazakhs and the struggle to return - Continued", Reuters Alertnet, 2003-09-03, retrieved 2010-06-08 
  4. ^ UNDP 2006, p. 23
  5. ^ Laruelle & Peyrouse 2009, pp. 116–117


Further reading[edit]

  • Diener, Alexander C. (2005), "Problematic Integration of Mongolian-Kazakh Return Migrants in Kazakhstan", Eurasian Geography and Economics 46 (6): 465–478, doi:10.2747/1538-7216.46.6.465 
  • Diener, Alexander C. (2009), One Homeland or Two?: The Nationalization and Transnationalization of Mongolia's Kazakhs, Stanford University Press, ISBN 978-0-8047-6191-8